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Will Jesus Not Return Until Everyone Has Heard the Gospel?

Question:  As a young child I was taught that Jesus would not return until everyone on earth had heard the Gospel.  Is there any truth to this?

Answer:  Yes, there is truth to that.  See Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”  Jesus has just talked about all kinds of terrible things that will happen, cataclysmic events that will point to the end of time.  (see 24:3-13)  The preaching of the Gospel is the most positive event Jesus talks about.  The Gospel, which is the good news about Jesus’ death and resurrection, must be preached in all the world–this doesn’t mean that every person will hear the Gospel–rather that every people group will.

I believe this will ultimately be accomplished through the period known as the Great Tribulation.  Revelation 7 describes those who have come to Christ from every tongue, tribe and nation.  I believe these are those who have come to Christ through the tribulation.

In the meantime, this should greatly motivate us to go and send missionaries to all parts of the world.

Those Who Have Never Heard

Question:  For those who have never heard the Gospel, is it necessary to have the realization of their spiritual depravity and of their need to be saved from that?

Yes.  Before someone can receive Christ, she must recognize her need for him.  Since salvation is by faith through grace, faith means that you trust God to take care of your spiritual depravity and that Jesus did that when He died in your place on the cross for your sins. I am convinced that the only way to realize your spiritual depravity is to hear the Gospel which begins by talking about God’s wrath against sin and God’s answer, namely, Jesus.

Do children have attending angels?

I think Matthew 18:10 gives insight into this question.  Jesus has just compared entrance into the kingdom of heaven to having the attitude of a child.  The child is standing in the middle of the crowd Jesus is teaching (see 18:2).  Then in verse 10, Jesus says: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”  Jesus’ statement clearly suggests that these children have angels.  We cannot conclude from Jesus’ statement that each child has an angel.  However, we can conclude that angels are watching out for children!  This should come as a great sense of relief for parents and remind them that God is indeed on their side as they raise their little ones.

Do babies grow into adults in heaven?

The Bible does not clearly answer this question.  However 1 John 3:2 sheds some light on what we will be like in heaven:  1 John 3: 2, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”  We will be like Jesus.  Does that mean we will be 33 years old, the age that Jesus was when he died?  Again, who can say?  The greatest news is that we will be like Jesus–and whatever that is, I want!

How do you deal with God’s command to destroy Canaanite children?

I don’t deal easily with it.  It’s hard.  Any parent doesn’t deal easily with a command to kill children.  In light of the sermon on the age of accountability, I believe those children are not yet accountable for their sins, and though God commanded Israel to completely destroy Canaan, the children are with him in heaven.

God’s concern about Canaan and other nations surrounding Israel was connected to his commands to Israel in Exodus 34:15-16, “lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice, and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods.”  Israel was always, as we are, tempted to leave God and pursue other gods.  If they did not completely eradicate pagan nations, they would eventually pursue those gods.  As a matter of fact, Israel eventually followed the ways of Canaan, even sacrificing their own children to the God Molech.

Completely eradicating Canaan served to protect Israel from them and to protect Canaan from themselves.  While this will always be difficult to understand, it must serve as a staunch reminder of the danger of sin and of how seriously God takes sin, especially the sin of idolatry.

Since we are all God’s children are we all considered innocent in his eyes.

We are all God’s children in the sense that we are created by Him.  However, John 1:12-13 says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”  If we were all innocent, then we must wrestle with a cruel God who would send His Son to die on a cross.  What kind of dad could watch His Son, tied to a whipping post, be beaten 39 times until his insides were visible; watch his boy carry a cross up a hill, fall under the weight of it, and then be nailed to that cross—if everybody will eventually be ok in the end?  What kind of dad would listen as his boy screams from the cross, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” if in the end everybody’s going to be ok anyway?

The condition by which we become children of God in the specific sense is receiving Jesus by faith.  Our faith in Christ gives us the right to be called children of God.


If God has a plan for everyone, does He plan evil?

You ask a great question–and a very tough one.  The origin of evil puzzles us because of our understanding that God originated all things and if so, did He originate evil?  I will quote from Norm Geisler and Ron Brooks:

1.  God made everything perfect.

2.  One of the perfect things God made was free creatures.

3.  Free will is the cause of evil.

4.  So, imperfection (evil) can arise from perfection (not directly, but indirectly through freedom).

They go on to say, “One of the things that makes men (and angels) morally perfect is freedom.  We have a real choice about what we do.  God made us that way so that we could be like HIm and could love freely (forced love is not love at all, is it?).  But in making us that way, He also allowed for the possibility of evil.  To be free we had to have not only the opportunity to choose good, but also the ability to choose evil.  That was the risk God knowingly took.  That doesn’t make Him responsible for evil.  He created the fact of freedom; we perform the acts of freedom.  He made evil possible, we make evil actual.  Imperfection came through the abuse of our moral perfection as free creatures.

As for the snake, the same answer applies.  God made Satan the most beautiful of all creatures with the perfection of free will.  Satan rebelled against God, and that became the first sin and the pattern for all sin that followed.  Some people ask, “What made Satan sin?”  That is like asking what caused the first cause; nothing outside his own free will caused him to sin.  He was the first cause of his sin and you can’t go back any father than that.  When we sin, ultimately we (by our wills) are the cause of the evil we do.  (When Skeptics Ask, p. 62-63)

What’s Required to Be Saved?

Question:  Do you have to be sorry for everything you have ever done or just know that you are a sinner and that Jesus is your Savior and want a relationship with him?

In order to be saved, there must be an awareness of your sin and God’s wrath against it.  The cross is God’s wrath (righteous anger) poured out on sin.  When a sinner becomes aware of his sin, and then becomes of aware that God provided Jesus as a sacrifice for his sin, he is then faced with a choice:  receive Jesus’ sacrifice and resulting forgiveness, or reject Jesus sacrifice.  You do not have to know everything you’ve ever done wrong (wow, what a list!), but you will be sorry for everything you’ve done wrong.

By the way, all of this is the work of the Spirit.  He convicts unbelievers of sin and draws them to Jesus.  What a great God!

Should I be Re-baptized?

Question:  I prayed a prayer of salvation at the age of 7 and was baptized.  I have since then questioned whether or not I truly understood enough to have genuinely been saved.  Should I be re-baptized now that I know that I am a Christian?

If you truly came to Christ after your first baptism, I would highly encourage you to be re-baptized.  Every baptism recorded in the New Testament followed conversion.  New Testament baptism comes after one’s decision to follow Christ as a symbol of what God has done inside that person’s heart and life.  Baptism has no saving value–it is only a symbol.  However it is a powerful symbol, a wonderful testimony of God’s work in you.


Is Salvation Inherited?

Question:  Is salvation inherited to a certain extent.  (1 Corinthians 4:14:  “I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.”)

No.  Salvation is not inherited at all.  If it could be inherited Jesus’ death would be in vain.  Ephesians 2:8 is clear:  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…”  Salvation is God’s work from beginning to end.  We cannot inherit salvation from our parents or from Godly people we may know.  They can help us to come to know Christ by teaching us about Him, but no one can save himself or another person.  Christ alone brings salvation to lost people.

In 1 Corinthians 4:14 Paul refers to the Corinthian believers as his “children” because he has invested much time in them as a spiritual parent/pastor to them.  However, to push the analogy, he did not birth them.  Pastors, Bible Fellowship leaders, small group leaders, one-to-one disciplers function, to a large extent like surrogate spiritual parents to those younger in the faith.  We did not birth any of the children we teach, but we are given great responsibility in teaching them.